Welcome James B. Stewart, and Michael W. Hudson, author of The Monster.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. -bev]

Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff

Michael W. Hudson, Host:

One lie leads to another.

In heady days of the Great American Mortgage Boom, loan salesmen lied to borrowers. The salesmen and other mortgage workers made the deals go through by fabricating documents and forging signatures. Quality-control folks up the line ratified the lies by signing off on deals that they knew – or should have known – were tainted with fraud. Capital markets executives misled investors about the quality of the borrowers and the loans. Investors lied to themselves – and sometimes their financial backers – about the kinds of toxic mortgage waste they were buying. Much later, it emerged that people working on behalf of the nation’s largest banks had perjured themselves by signing false affidavits that sped borrowers into foreclosure.

Rarely do lies simply go out in the world and stand on their own. To have staying power, they require a complex network of ancillary lies and human enablers (sometimes knowing, sometime unwitting) who create a web of falsehood. These tangled webs can drain families’ bank accounts, get people killed, cause great institutions to fall, even help crash an economy.

In his new book, Tangled Webs: How False Statements Are Undermining America, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James B. Stewart tells the story of four convicted dissemblers: Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby, Bernie Madoff and Barry Bonds.

The stories he tells, though, are about more than individual liars, or about what he describes as a rising tide of lying under oath – perjury – at the highest levels of business, media, politics, sports and culture. They’re also about complex swirls of untruths that build on one another, confederates who lie to protect the liars from their lies, and people who believe lies or false information because political ideologies or financial incentives predispose them to believe.

On Jan. 28, 2003, President George W. Bush uttered 16 words whose essence was later shown to be false: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

As Firedoglake readers know, those 16 words helped nurture the false impression that Iraq was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction that could be used against Americans, helping to push the U.S. into a bloody war that has yet to end.

The 16 words in question also created one of the biggest scandals of the Bush presidency. Former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson accused the Bush administration of ignoring his findings from a fact-finding mission that had convinced him that Iraq hadn’t sought uranium in Africa. In response, administration officials spread the word that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA, suggesting she had arranged the African trip as a junket for her husband.

When it became clear that these officials had outed an uncover intelligence operative – a crime under U.S. law – the ensuing investigation produced a number of dubious statements from high-level government executives about what they’d said and when and why they’d said it. Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, was convicted of lying about his role in leaking Plame’s identity.

In trying to make sense of the deceptions by Libby and the other characters in his book, Stewart suggests that America is “on the brink of becoming a society where perjury is the norm.” One assistant U.S. attorney told him that he came to work every day expecting to be lied to; the only question was how well told the lies would be.

While street criminals have always tried to mislead authorities about their activities, Stewart says that prosecutors told him that “a surge of concerted, deliberate lying by a different class of criminal – sophisticated, educated, affluent, and represented in many cases by the best lawyers – threatens to swamp the legal system and undermine the prosecution of white-collar crime.”

Stewart, author of Den of Thieves and other books about politics and business, believes the consequences for our nation and our society could be devastating.

“Lying under oath that goes unproven and unpunished breeds a cynicism that undermines the foundations of any society that aspires to fair play and the rule of law,” he writes. “It undermines civilization itself.”

107 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes James B. Stewart, Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff”

BevW May 14th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

James, Welcome to the Lake.

Mike, Thank you for Hosting today.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:04 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

Nice to be with you.

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Bev, thanks for pulling this together, and Jim, thanks for talking with us.

Let me kick things off with this question for Jim: Can you talk about the genesis of this book? Was there a particular incident or “a-ha” moment that brought you to the idea of focusing on these four case studies?

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I’d written quite a bit about all the corporate scandals that came in a wave after the Internet bubble burst: Enron, Worldcom, Adelphia, Health South, Tyco…etc. I kept wondering, what’s the commmon thread here? Why is this happening now? Then it struck me that dishonesty– brazen lying in financial statements– was rampant. These were ceos and cfos, wealthy, successful, well educated people who were role models. Why would they do this? Then I started seeing it everywhere: media, sports, entertainment, and of course, politics.

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Why do you think white-collar perjury has become so pervasive? Is it simply the lack of deterrence – the scant chance that a liar will get caught and prosecuted?

Dearie May 14th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Any suggestions about what we commoners might do to hold our corruptors to account? I think we can all see the lying, but when our ‘leader’ wants only to look forward, how can we peons hold anyone accountable?

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

The simple answer is that the people lying do think they’ll get away with it. In the cases in my book, that was was certainly the case. But that begs the question: Why did they think they’d get away with it? Part of the answer is that there’s been a lack of visible enforcement, to put it mildly. I mean, Presient Clinton actually committed perjury, only grudgingly admitted it, and got a slap on the wrist. President Bush commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence for perjury. So what message does that send?

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Thanks Jim.

Can you talk about the role that professionals – lawyers, accountants, consultants, etc. — may play in helping white-collar types to mislead authorities about their activities?

HotFlash May 14th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Mr Stewart, I’ve not had a chance to read your book yet, but all this seems so familiar to me. I am a free-lance accountant, one of my specialties is preparing clients for audit. My clients have included small and medium-sized businesses and the odd political candidate. And I have to say, wow, just wow, about the number of times I have seen me and the middle-mgmt bean-counter types get the books together, then the CPA Auditor Sr Partner comes in, has lunch with the principals, and numbers gets changed. Who do you think is instigating this? Me and the middle mgmt types suspect it is the CA firms, and there has got to, *got to* be a quid pro quo. The big boys don’t do nuttin’ for free.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:24 pm
In response to Dearie @ 6

To me, some of the most fascinating aspects of the stories I tell in my book aren’t just what happens to the main characters, but to the less well-known people who surround them. These people aren’t celebrities, may not be rich and powerful, though some are. You see what happens to them. Nearly all of them are in a position to do something, but most just look the other way. They end up enabling the perjury. Any of us could find ourselves in these positions, and it can be tough. But we need to be ready to obey the law, tell the truth under oath, and do our civic duty to testify truthfully. That’s a tenet of our civilization: I swear to tell the truth. Sadly, the commitment is breaking down. We all need to do our part to reinforce that obligation, starting with our children, and by setting an example.

Jane Hamsher May 14th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Thank you so much Michael for that introduction, and welcome James.

I think about this a lot. I always wonder if people are making a class assumption (“it’s okay if WE lie to THEM,” nudge-nudge) or if they think they’re putting one over on everyone.

The Scooter Libby liar is an example of the first. Likewise, some of Obama’s worst moments have happened at fundraisers, because he DOES say different things privately to oligarchs, and doesn’t seem to feel very self-conscious about it. The day he dispensed Goolsbee to tell the Canadians he didn’t really mean all that anti-NAFTA crap was a real tell.

Whereas a Bernie Madoff thinks he’s fooling everyone, including his peers.

But what I’m never sure of is the story they tell themselves. Is this okay because it’s “what everybody does,” or it’s “how the world works?”

Or are they members of the John Ensign/Mark Foley class, who simply have come to believe that because nobody has ever caught them before, that nobody will catch them in the future? That future state will always equal present state?

Always an interesting challenge, to assign the liar to the right category when you’re trying to deal with them.

Dearie May 14th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Thanks for your thoughtful response. However, it seems that nowadays it is the whistleblower who is at far more risk for a bad outcome than the perpetrators. Are we too far gone? Do you see any hope for a correction in this moral decay?

bluewombat May 14th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Of all the liars in the Bush Regime you could have chosen, I’m curious why you settled on Mr. Libby. Was it because he was the only one who was convicted? Did you ever think of focusing on Bush or Cheney — you know, the ones on whose behalf Libby lied?

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I was pretty shocked by the role of professionals in these stories. Most of these people lied under oath while they had a lawyer sitting at their side! In a few cases the lawyers might not have known, but in most of these the lies were pretty preposterous. Yet the lawyers didn’t interrupt or do anything. There are exceptions to this– Karl Rove’s lawyer, for example. But the first line of defense against perjury and false statements has to be lawyers. They’re officers of the court. They take an oath. Yet too often they seem to tell their clients what they want to hear.

spocko May 14th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

This is a good recommendation.

But we need to be ready to obey the law, tell the truth under oath, and do our civic duty to testify truthfully.

What about when you are NOT under oath? Do people still have an obligation to tell the truth?

What if, say for example, you are at a press conference and you ask a question. You know for a fact that the person answering the question is telling a lie? How do you respond as a journalist sitting there?
Do you feel obligated to say to the person. “That is a lie and here is why it is a lie?”

Does it do any good to confront people who have lied in the past or in current press conferences about their lies?

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
In response to HotFlash @ 9

As Jim says above, lying on financial statements has become brazen. Numbers are supposed to stand for something real, but too often they’re meaningless, they get massaged into whatever’s necessary to make a deal go through or keep investors happy (for the time being). Even at the ground level, real estate appraisers, if they wanted to keep getting assignments, were expected to “hit the number”, inflating home’s value so that the loan would go through. Many investors in mortgage backed securities are claiming in lawsuits that borrowers’ credit scores were falsified by lenders and loan securitizers to make the pools of loans look much better than they really were.

Phoenix Woman May 14th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Actually, unlike Scooter Libby, President Clinton didn’t commit perjury — he managed to evade a rather sloppily-constructed perjury trap concerning a subject that was not germane to the matter at hand:

The United States Code has very strict standards for what constitutes perjury. (And even stricter standards for what constitutes committing perjury while testifying for a grand jury, as Scooter Libby was charged with doing in two of the five counts against him.)  In order for a given statement to be perjury, each one of the following five criteria must be met — and if any of these criteria are NOT met, it’s not perjury:

1) The statement must be made under oath.
2) The statement must be material to the case at hand.
3) The statement must be known by its maker to be false.
4) The statement must be demonstrably false.
5) The statement must have been made with an intent to mislead.

Let’s compare the situations of Scooter Libby, Bill Clinton, and Natasha Toensing.

#1:  The statements in question by all three were uttered under oath, so the first criteria is fulfilled.   So far so good.
#2:  Here’s where the divergence happens.  Libby’s and Toensing’s statements were definitely material to their respective cases at hand.  Clinton’s statement, however, was not.  Here’s why:  He was asked about a consensual sexual relationship with one woman (Monica Lewinsky) while he was supposed to be quizzed about an alleged sexual harrassment of another (Paula Jones). 

(Brief digression here:  Just how bogus was the Jones sexual harrassment suit? Well, it actually started out as a defamation suit, but was changed to a sexual-harrassment suit after Jones’ string-pullers realized they couldn’t sue for defamation since Clinton never talked about Jones, much “defamed” her.   Also, as mentioned above, the suit never made it to court.  Pity:  I would have loved to have seen how the people behind the suit dealt with the embarrassing questions raised in this Salon article.) 

In other words, the statement he made was to a question that had nothing to do with the case at hand – it wasn’t material.  (Ya wanna talk “no underlying crime”, Libby defenders?  I gotcher “no underlying crime” right heeeere.   Not only was the question not material to the case, the case itself was found wanting and dismissed.)

The upshot: Clinton’s statement is not perjury.  Period.  It didn’t make it past the materiality test. (This is almost certainly why even the hostile Republican Senate was compelled to acquit him on this charge in the impeachment vote.)

RevBev May 14th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 11

Interesting view. And I think M. Stewart was pretty blatant with an outlook that she would just get away with it…iirc.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to HotFlash @ 9

You’re right, and it’s a big part of the problem. The problem is at the top, which is something I find very disturbing. I started this book thinking people who were so famous and successful would be much less likely to lie than other people, because they have so much to lose. I changed my thinking 180 degrees. I think they’re more likely to lie, because no one ever challenges them. They’re surrounded by yes-people. People tell them what they want to hear because they want the money and the power that flow from them. And so they’re never held to the standards that everyone else is. You see this very clearly in the stories I tell.

HotFlash May 14th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I am reinded of Arthur E. Morgan, a civil engineer (google him, TVA, Antioch College and other good stuff). He wrote about two theoretical accountants. One lived in a modest house, paid off his mortgage, ate bag lunches, went on camping vacations and was generally boring. The other had a big house, lavish lifestyle, huge mortgage, country club dues, car payments, private school tuition fofr the kids, yada. When the company pres asked them to cook the books, the frugal guy said, “Stuff it, sir, I am outta here.” The country-club guy said, “How high?” Morgan’s point was that we have to buy our own moral freedom, and that we have to do it *in advance*.

DaveMoore May 14th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Sorry I have not read your book yet. My late father was a police office when I was born and retired a magistrate. He was outraged whenever such people lied. He always told them before sentencing, “If I can’t trust you then who can I?” The system depends upon people telling the truth. I agree with you that “leaders” such as Clinton and Bush should be pointed to as bad examples.

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Another question for Jim:

How does Bernie Madoff compare to the financial wrongdoers of another era — Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, etc? — that you wrote about in “Den of Thieves”?

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 11

One of the things I find offensive in these cases is that the lies are so obvious that it insults my intelligence. Many people have asked me, “who’s the best liar” in this group? The better question is, “Who’s the worst?” And yet they stare into the cameras, lie, and expect us to swallow and accept it. Does anyone with eyes believe that Barry Bonds didn’t use steroids? But this is historically how the powerful treat everyone else. They create their own reality and make everyone else bend to their will. They get others to repeat their lies and lie for them. In this sense it is a class/power issue.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:41 pm
In response to spocko @ 15

There’s a continuum of lying, from innocuous trivialities to serious crimes. I wrote about the latter. But when you have so many role models commiting perjury, it trickles down through the hierarchy. Lying at a press conference may not be a crime, but it can be very serious. But if we’re not even prosecuting perjury, people are going to do it.

BooRadley May 14th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Mr. Stewart, I’m a long time admirer of your work. It’s an honor to have you here at FDL. I look forward to buying your book.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

The recent real estate bubble and financial crisis were built on lies, many on financial forms submitted under oath. This is exactly what I’m talking about. Once people feel that everyone is doing it, and getting away with it, and getting enriched by it, this is what results. This is why I’m hopping up and down and saying perjury is a serious problem: Because so many people have been hurt by it and so many billions have been lost. The Madoff case is another powerful example.

HotFlash May 14th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

You mention Bernie Madoff. I had never heard of the guy until he ratted himself out for his fraud. This was not a miracle of crime detection, he confessed! If he hadn’t he might never have been caught. Personally, I think he was protecting someone (family, is my guess) but it doesn’t seem that short of a public confession, there is no way he would have ever been held to account. Despite lots of people and major institutions (Brandeis College for one) getting skinned. Was *everybody on the planet* in on the scam? How do people who play by the rules stand a chance?

HotFlash May 14th, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Lying at a press conference should be a serious crime. Period.

gordonot May 14th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

It seems to me that the logical fallacy of “If lie then ” was largely uncorked by 911 – a big lie. That university intellectuals were cowed into remaining mum on this big lie then meant that anything goes.

“Good authors too who once knew better words,
Now only use four letter words
Writing prose, Anything Goes.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 17

I don’t want to rehash the Clinton case, but he did lie under oath; he admitted it; and he was sanctioned. His exact words are quoted in the introduction to my book, as well as the resolution of the case. No matter how we feel about Clinton and his politics, or how unfairly we may feel he was treated by partisan politicians, I don’t think we can ignore what actually happened, and the demoralizing effect this had on law enforcement.

gordonot May 14th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Sorry, “if lie then [fill in anything here]“

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

At Ameriquest, the largest of the subprime mortgage factories, employees referred to little lies as “playing in the gray area.” They also used what they called the “Whoops method.” If a borrower had an income of $56,000, for example, a loan officer might report it as $66,000. If somebody in underwriting caught the discrepancy, it could be explained away as a typo — a single missed keystroke.

Of course, getting away with fudging and little lies often emboldened workers to tell even bigger lies, forging borrowers signatures on disclosure forms or using “cut and paste” techniques to create fake W-2 tax forms. They joked that this work was being done in “The Lab” or the “Art Department.”

RevBev May 14th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I think I also recall, though not the details, that Madoff had had a previous very close call that he some how righted.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
In response to HotFlash @ 20

Many people seem to feel the ends justify the means, including lying and cheating. Bernie Madoff enlisted an impressionable teenager, Frank DiPascali, a college drop out, to execute his giant Ponzi scheme. He was paid millions. He lived beyond his wildest dreams. But he also had to live with the knowledge he was a fraud and he was hurting other people. Was it all worth it? He pleaded guilty and the statement he made at his plea I found very moving. I think the answer is: it wasn’t.

Petro May 14th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
In response to HotFlash @ 28

Delurking a moment – I’m sure someone else will make this point, but… he “ratted himself out” because the bubble broke, and he was incapable of hiding his crime anymore.

spocko May 14th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Prosecuting. That’s a legalistic view. I want to talk about the role of a journalist when confronting someone who is lying about serious stuff. No, they are not under oath, but they are still lying. You might know they are lying because you have done some serious research.

But I like the way you avoided my question, well done! So again:

How do you respond as a journalist sitting there?
Do you feel obligated to say to the person. “That is a lie and here is why it is a lie?”

What culpability do journalists have when they allow themselves to be redirected away from lies spread by people in power?

The media sit in press conferences as lies are being told by “experts”. The pass on the lies through the “he said she said” format.

There is a real hunger for the media to not only call out the politicians but the legions of paid experts who support them with lies.

gordonot May 14th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to RevBev @ 34

Clinton gave into the dark side early on: research Mena, AR, for instance. But he threw all integrity under the bus after the ’94 Reep Rev. when he called in Madison Ave. to research what lies people wanted to hear and then tell them these lies. Like the need to end welfare, etc.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:57 pm
In response to HotFlash @ 28

The Madoff story really is astonishing. My account focuses on how he got away with it for so long. I figured he must have been one of the greatest liars of all time. Wrong! His lies were laughable. You have to read the transcripts to believe them. And the SEC knew he was lying! But the higher-ups did nothing. They didn’t think perjury was enough to prosecute him, even though it’s a felony. This shows what happens when law enforcement just shrugs and says everyone is doing it. I got so upset writing the Madoff story I had to get up from my desk and take some deep breaths. If we don’t take perjury seriously we’re going to breed more Madoffs. Maybe they’re already out there.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Applications that didn’t require any verification were known as “liar loans.” Yet no one raised any questions, not even the federal reserve.

DWBartoo May 14th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Thank you for insisting upon the truth, James, even when it is inconvenient or, posiibly, costly.

Untruth is always costly at the level which you are discussing.

Truth IS the basis of the rule of law.

The lying is bad enough, but when it is deliberately overlooked, as the DOJ and FBI have done with Sen. Levin’s report regarding Goldman-Sachs, we then have deliberate systemic failure and the future of civil society itself hangs in the balance …


Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Staying with the role of the media for moment:

Jim, how good are our news media at discovering lies and fraud in real time, while they’re happening? As opposed to coming down out of the hills after the battle and shooting the wounded, reporting on lies and corruption after the financial crash, after the war has been launched, after the damage has been done, etc.?

I think reporters (and editors) tend to be more comfortable being coroners – performing autopsies on failed companies, government policies, etc. – instead of being diagnosticians who can expose the lies and corruption while there’s still time to treat the illness. This is understandable – it’s a lot easier and professionally safer to do the journalistic autopsies than to put yourself on the line and take on powerful people and institutions while they’re riding high and promise (by implication or by word) to come after your with everything they’ve got.

(please excuse all the mix-and-match metaphors in this)

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to RevBev @ 34

Madoff survived FOUR SEC investigations! They did come close to getting him…but obviously not close enough. How that happened is unbelievable.

RevBev May 14th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

So what’s in it for the members of the Fed? Can’t be good.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 3:06 pm
In response to spocko @ 37

As a journalist I’ve been lied to many times. I always assume someone is telling the truth until I’m confronted with evidence to the contrary. But I don’t jump in and browbeat someone if they’re lying. My job is to listen, to gather evidence, to present the facts, then let readers reach their own conclusions. I hope I’ve done that in Tangled Webs. I think that’s far more powerful than acting as judge and jury myself. My book DisneyWar is filled with the kind of lying that goes on in Hollywood. In the end, I think the facts can be pretty devastating.

gordonot May 14th, 2011 at 3:06 pm
In response to RevBev @ 44

…nor the various accounting firms, who surely knew better.

But, again, I’d like Dr. Stewart to address the Big Lie.

spocko May 14th, 2011 at 3:09 pm
In response to RevBev @ 44

I think this is a good question.

Here’s the thing about honesty in a world with no consequences, there’s not as much money in it!

Lying where there are no consequences, small or no penalties means lots of money can be made.

It would be swell if we had a fully staffed and funded SEC, but we don’t. A friend has turned over to the SEC a number of execs who have lied during their conference calls. His research was ignored by the SEC and the companies turned around and sued him!

This is another reason that people are afraid to call out the liars.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Journalists have exposed plenty of problems– they were raising questions about Madoff, for example. But often they do get there too late. There are lots of issues here, including the risks of taking the rich and powerful to task. I was sued for $34 million after my book Den of Thieves and the case took over ten years and millions of dollars to defend before I was resoundingly vindicated. No publisher wants to get sued. They’re understandably cautious. And investigative journalism is expensive and time consuming. There isn’t as much of it today, I’m sorry to say.

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 3:12 pm
In response to spocko @ 37

Remember the words of Homer Simpson, after being caught in another lie: “Marge, it takes TWO people to lie. One to lie, and one to listen.”

Sometimes reporters end up listening passively to lies told over and over again, serving mostly as stenographers to power.

One positive development, though, is the proliferation of fact-check type columns and web sites that try to assess important people’s statements and determine whether they’re lying (and just how egregiously they’re lying. Four Pinochios. Pants on Fire, etc. etc.)

RevBev May 14th, 2011 at 3:13 pm
In response to spocko @ 47

That is scary…more evidence of the complete lack of regulation. Sorry for your friend.

econobuzz May 14th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

One positive development, though, is the proliferation of fact-check type columns and web sites …

So often these devolve into false equivalencies between big (consequential) and small (inconsequential) lies, no?

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 3:15 pm


The one case that hadn’t been decided by the time you finished the book was the Barry Bonds case. Does the recent verdict – conviction on a single obstruction count and no decision (deadlocks) on the perjury counts – say something about how perjury is viewed in our society?

Does it reflect citizens’ lack of outrage?

The relative strength of the evidence against Bonds?

Or perhaps the idea that, whatever Bonds’ sins, someone using steroids so you can hit a baseball farther isn’t exactly the most important crime in the world, especially considering all the damage done by white-collar titans of finance who committed multi-million and multi-billion-dollar frauds that destroyed jobs, helped crash the economy, etc.

RevBev May 14th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

FWIW….or the stupid idealization of sports figures and their glamour. Just my 2 cents. I think the out of control sports figure has caused a lot of damage and false values.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 3:18 pm
In response to spocko @ 47

I think you see in the stories in my book that the short-term benefits of lying often seem to outweigh the longer term risks of getting caught. Douglas Faneuil, the young assistant who worked for Martha Stewart’s broker, is a vivid example. Initially he was pressured to go along with their story and he did. But ultimately he couldn’t live with himself. He had too much integrity. It took tremendous courage, but he recanted and told the truth. He was branded a “Judas” in New York magazine. He had to plead guilty to a crime. Some of his friends told him he should just keep lying. He probably would have gotten away with it. What did he get in return for being honest? He has his integrity. He can live with himself. That’s priceless. We need more people like him, who actually have a moral conscience and the strength to act on it.

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to econobuzz @ 51

Absolutely, fact checking can often be a fraught and subjective thing, and their have been some bad decisions that missed the whole point and make false equivalencies.

Still, in general, I think the sites have done a pretty good job. And the existence of the sites at least helps fuel the debate over who’s telling the truth. Compare to 50 years ago, when few in the media (save for IF Stone and a hardy band of media outsiders) dared to question whether a President, Majority Leader, House Speaker were lying.

spocko May 14th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

“My job is to listen, to gather evidence, to present” the facts.”

Hmmm. You sound a bit like Tim Russert with everything off the record all the time and not bothering to mention to the person he is talking to on camera that he has evidence that is in direct contradiction to what the person is saying in real time.

Questioning the person instantly about their statement vs. waiting until after the fact allows them to get their lie “out there” Which helps perpetuate it.

Also, do you feel fabulism is a form of lying?

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I agree too many journalists simply serve as the conduits for others’ falsehoods. This seems especially prevalent on talk TV and radio, which thrives on controversy, no matter how bogus.

potsdam602 May 14th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Hello Mr. Stewart and Mr.Hudson– Do you know if Christopher Cox was a straight shooter if or when he was questioned about investigations into B. Madoff’s business practices? Or was Mr. Cox the bottom line of investigation at the time?

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to spocko @ 56

Different journalists have different styles. I work in print, so there’s no audience when someone lies to me and I don’t confront them. I gather the evidence, and in the end, the reader can see that someone is lying. I’m not quite sure what you mean by “fabulism,” but if you mean making something up to enhance a story, it’s false. It’s fiction. Fiction has a place, but not in non-fiction.

econobuzz May 14th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I agree too many journalists simply serve as the conduits for others’ falsehoods.

I think this is especially true of certain “serious people” like John McCain. Almost everything he says is a contradiction of something he said in the past, but he is rarely called on it.

CharlesII May 14th, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to spocko @ 56

I have to agree. I feel somewhat awkward being instructed on the atmosphere of impunity about lying by a journalist who was part of generating it.

Please forgive my indelicacy.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to potsdam602 @ 58

Cox was chairman of the SEC. He got a few letters about Madoff, which I doubt he ever read, and which were referred to enforcement, which put them into the circular file. I don’t think Cox played any role in Madoff; he was too high-level The serious problems were lower in the ranks. The issue for Cox and his successor is, why was there so much incompetence and complacency in the rank and file? One person responsible for the Madoff fiasco resigned (before the scandal even broke), but no one else was even demoted! Last I checked, they were all still working there. This is a management issue that goes to the top.

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to RevBev @ 53

I think the idealization of sports stars and their massive egos are a definitely a problem. But it’s worth noting that this has ALWAYS been a problem — sports stars of today are no more violent, out of control, greedy or ego-driven than sports stars of yesteryear.

Take the sainted Babe Ruth. He womanized, broke curfew, gorged on hot dogs before games, cursed and punched umpires and once was so drunk at spring training that he ran into a palm tree in the outfield and knocked himself senseless.

He was a big enough star, though, that the rules didn’t really apply to him. On one occasion he saved himself from getting benched for boozing and carousing by smacking two home runs in a game. “How can I fine and suspend him the way he played today?” his manager asked. The media, of course, gave him a free ride, very unlike the treatment he would have seen today.

maa8722 May 14th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Excellent! Can’t wait to get this.

There are more truisms about falsehood here than anyone would want to think possible. A lot of us have heard plenty about about these miscreants already, but tying together Stewart, Libby, Madoff, and Bonds in one effort does raise some important questions about human nature. It will be a lot to swallow in one bite. It should also lead to some creepy thoughts of who else might lurking in that netherworld — parasites nearby, as yet undetected, but busy nonetheless.

The consequences are important to consider; however, I hope there’s also something about motives which drive the perpetrators and how they conclude they can succeed forever at flagrant deception. It’s akin to walking across the railroad tracks with your eyes shut, no?

Or perhaps do some of them perversely hope to get caught? Those would be seeking an exit ticket from respectable society in which they have lost faith. An in your face gesture, perhaps?

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Jim — who would be your favorite, or most memorable, “honest”/straight-shooting character in “Tangled Webs.” Are there any heroes in these stories?

spocko May 14th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I didn’t lie–I was writing fiction in my mouth.
Homer Simpson

Ah ha! Something to remember, when you don’t want to be called a liar call it fiction.

I bring this but because something that I read from Joe Conason about one of Mr. Stewart’s earlier books.

Published by Simon and Shuster in 1996 to the accompaniment of a multimedia publicity campaign, Stewart’s book Blood Sport claims to be the inside story of “the president and first lady as they really are.” Set forth as a sweeping narrative, it includes dramatized scenes and imaginary dialog purporting to represent the innermost thoughts of individuals whom the author had in some cases never met, much less interviewed.

- The Hunting of the President, Conason and Lyons

I can see how avoiding being sued is something that forces someone into fiction.

If being sued is such a horrible thing for publishers, why doesn’t the left sue James Corsi and his ilk more often?

RevBev May 14th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

It’s all so out of proportion to what they contribute…OJ a perfect example, Woods, now maybe Armstrong, most all of the Dallas Cowboys, including Jones….It is a sickening atmosphere. And something wrong with “us” that we are so tolerant. Im really glad I did not have boys; but no one escapes.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Barry Bonds said he was born into “baseball royalty” (his father played for the Giants) and he basically got special treatment for his entire life. He never thought the rules applied to him and there are several examples in my book. But whatever else Babe Ruth might have done, I don’t know that he ever lied under oath, or cheated, for that matter, as Bonds did by taking steroids. Sports heroes are important role models, especially for young people. They’re entitled to privacy in their personal lives, and no one expects them to be perfect. But they are not free to commit felonies with impunity. They and other celebrities are subject to the same laws as the rest of us.

frmrirprsn May 14th, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Ends don’t always justify the means. Obviously some ends justify some means, or nothing would get done. Clinton was asked to respond to a question that should never had been asked. The constant fabricated personal attacks on Clinton, all the way up to allegations of murdering his best friend, were the real crime here. They were lies and they changed the course of history. I’m not sure why Clinton is part of your morality play.

I have no idea, given what goes on in the financial system, why it was worth the government’s time to prosecute Martha Stewart, let alone accept the cost of keeping her in prison.

Even Madoff was small potatoes compared to the interconnected conspiracy of lies that brought the global economy down.

It seems to me, from what I read here, that a much more interesting question than the details of lies of the people you name would be a discussion of the decision whether or not to prosecute for perjury.

CharlesII May 14th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to spocko @ 66

Did you see Digby’s review of the work under discussion? She came up with an alternate title for it.

potsdam602 May 14th, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Since we’ve been told no dialysis machine was found with OBL, was it a falsehood that OBL needed dialysis? It may have been spun to mess up the hunt. Does anyone know where that false fact originated?

HotFlash May 14th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Tottally|! *We* pay these people (SEC, DOJ, etc.) to be the sheriffs. And they don’t sheriff. What can we do? Private individuals can stamp their feet and whistle, but without the power of law, they can just laugh. Oh, right…

gordonot May 14th, 2011 at 3:41 pm
In response to potsdam602 @ 71

That’s something a real journalist would pursue, would that there were any.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 3:41 pm
In response to maa8722 @ 64

Madoff actually said he wished he’d been caught sooner– after the fact, of course. I think that’s just another lie. He loved getting away with it and flaunting the trappings of wealth and success. I think all of these characters thought they would get away with it, and all except Madoff are still going around saying they’re innocent and were wrongly convicted. There’s no remorse or acceptance of personal responsibility. Incidentally, I chose these four stories very carefully out of many possibilities. Partly because they’re great stories, but also to illustrate the breadth of the problem and, most important of all, the consequences. Each of these stories shows the impact of false statements at an ever-wider scale.

gordonot May 14th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
In response to gordonot @ 73

Another thing I’d like to see a journalist pursue is, what became of all the people who were convicted and jailed in the S&L crisis? There were hundreds of them…

econobuzz May 14th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

There is an enormous difference between a lie that costs tens of thousands of lives and one that covers up a blowjob. Lies by equals among equals are not always equal in their consequences. Is this a theme in the book?

spocko May 14th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I’m not quite sure what you mean by “fabulism,” but if you mean making something up to enhance a story, it’s false. It’s fiction. Fiction has a place, but not in non-fiction.

Good to know. So, Blood Sport, Fiction or non-fiction? I couldn’t tell from the Amazon page.

BTW, I was threatened with a law suit from ABC/Disney over a copyright issue. I won. So I know about about keeping your integrity in face of giants. Sure it’s priceless, I can tell you it’s isn’t profitable.
And I think that we need to figure out how to make lying UNPROFITABLE for them and profitable for us. In fact I think that we could make suing the other side for lying a profit center if we were smart about it. Frankly I’m sick of begging for money for being honest.

Crime pays in Corporate America. And lying crimes pay the most. You make lying unprofitable you help make it stop.

May 14th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

You’re taking over Joe Nocera’s spot on the opinion pages at the NYT.

How are we to be sure we can avoid this sort of thing in your opinions:

Set forth as a sweeping narrative, it includes dramatized scenes and imaginary dialog purporting to represent the innermost thoughts of individuals whom the author had in some cases never met, much less interviewed.

“Scenes that Mr Stewart could never have observed first hand,” complained New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani, “are recounted from an omniscient viewpoint. Mr. Stewart rarely identifies the sources for such scenes not does he take into account the subjectivity and oftens self-serving nature of memory. The reader never knows whether the quotes Mr Stewart puts into the mouth of an individual… are from a first or second hand source

frmrirprsn May 14th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to CharlesII @ 70

Thank you for this link, which I encourage everyone here to read.

Moderator, I will endeavor to stay within the bounds of respect FDL guests deserve if FDL will, in the future, do a better job of examining those it intends to invite.

Cellar47 May 14th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Greetings Mr. Stewart! This is David Ehrenstein. We met and chatted at an NLGJA conference in Miami a number of years back.

While there’s no way to stop people from lying, we journalists CAN slow thme up quite a bit if we refuse to use unnamed sources. I’ve campaigned against this for years. And here’s the piece were I explain why — in detail.

Your thoughts?

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to gordonot @ 75

There were a thousand S&L insiders convicted of felonies in the 1980s S&L scandal, and many big names, including Chas. Keating, spent time behind bars.

Very different from what we’re seeing in the wake of the financial scandals that crashed the world economy.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Douglas Faneuil, who told the truth at great personal sacrifice, is a compelling example of doing the right thing. Ann Armstrong, Martha Stewart’s long-time assistant, was very courageous. Bob Luskin, the lawyer for Karl Rove,behaved honorably– and also got his client off. Some of the professional athletes did tell the truth.

CharlesII May 14th, 2011 at 3:50 pm
In response to frmrirprsn @ 69

frmrirprsm says, “I’m not sure why Clinton is part of your morality play.”

Once one gets heavily invested in something, it gets easier to see the splinter in the other person’s eye than the log in one’s own.

Calling Clinton’s dishonesty “perjury” is itself a lie. The offense was neither charged nor tried, a requirement for a crime of that seriousness.

But there is a heavy, heavy investment in defending the assault on Clinton, because one can draw a straight line between what was done to him–a kind of McCarthyism–and a weakening of the political correctives that democracy offers. Clinton turned increasingly to corporate money and support because he needed it to overcome the devastating press he suffered. I find it implausible that he would have brought on Rubin and Summers had not the pseudoscandals knocked out that eminently decent man, Lloyd Bentsen. Rubin and Summers are complicit with Gramm in ending Glass-Steagall, which was one of the proximate causes of the financial crisis.

This is why we so desperately need journalists to tell us not about the dishonesty that’s out there–we know about that–but to confess to their own.

DWBartoo May 14th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

There is a clear “pattern” to the problem, unfettered greed coupled with the Divine Right of Money …

And the legal community, by and large, tends to look the other way, after all, it is the judges’ and highly-paid lawyers’ friends and astute “advisers” about whom you are speaking, James.

Do you see ANY possibility that, short of “the people’s” real and concentrated INSISTANCE upon it that there will be meaniful change in enforcement or consequence for those many who accept no responsibility for their behavior, including the political class?


potsdam602 May 14th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Martha Stewart going to prison when so many others have not (those heading many banks, many on Wall Street or in trading or financial organizations) seems pretty weird or wrong somehow.

frmrirprsn May 14th, 2011 at 3:52 pm
In response to CharlesII @ 83

Outstanding analysis. Thank you.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to econobuzz @ 76

As I said earlier, there’s a continuum of lies. Some are harmless. The lies in my book vary in their consequences, but they’re all serious. Lies about sex are ubiquitous and perhaps deserve a category of their own. Lies told under oath about sex are another matter. If we’re going to have laws prohibiting sexual harassment, and various sex-related crimes, then people are going to be asked about their sexual behavior, and they have the same obligation to tell the truth as any other witness.

DWBartoo May 14th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to frmrirprsn @ 86



spocko May 14th, 2011 at 3:55 pm
In response to HotFlash @ 72

This is a good point/question.

Tottally|! *We* pay these people (SEC, DOJ, etc.) to be the sheriffs. And they don’t sheriff. What can we do? Private individuals can stamp their feet and whistle, but without the power of law, they can just laugh. Oh, right…

One thing that a lot of people don’t know about are the Qui Tam laws.
I’d like for people to start learning about ways that we, the general public, can use these laws to force liars and lawbreakers to pay for their lies. I have friends at Phillips & Cohen in San Francisco who are great with recovering money for Whistleblowers.

Right now there are DOJ qui tam laws on the books as well as IRS. The SEC is just developing their Qui tam laws now. (The IRS laws kind of suck but the DOJ laws are good. If you expose lies and fraud to the government you can get 15% of the money recovered. )

I would like to see FDL and other activists start to take on the corporations in a fashion that they understand and respect, financially.
These people aren’t going to tell the truth out of a sense of honor, only if it is painful. And if we can make money in the process of forcing them to tell the truth, all the better.

BevW May 14th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

James, Thank you for stopping by and spending the afternoon with us and discussing your new book.

Mike, Thank you very much for returning to FDL and Hosting this Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

James’ book and website

Mike’s book and website

Tomorrow’s FDL Book Salon:
Professor Andrew Kolin, State Power and Democracy: Before and During the Presidency of George W. Bush.

Hosted by Professor Marjorie Cohn.

Thanks all,
Have a great evening.

leftdcin72 May 14th, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to econobuzz @ 76

WTF, and she landed under sniper fire at Tuzla. The point about the Clintons lying is they do it all the time, who said that David Geffen? So the Clintons lie about a BJ with an intern and that is cast as an irrelevant insignifant incident. BC lied when to his draft board when he told them he would enroll at the Arkansas law school and got a ROTC deferment from the draft, BC lied when he said Robert Rubin was the best SOT since Hamilton and when he stated that deregulation of the banks was great. Or was all of the above just misplaced opinion?

DaveMoore May 14th, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 22

Did you see the word “perjury” in my response? I was making a point about people in authority telling the truth. Mr. Stewart, however, set you right on Comment 31 regarding Clinton lying under oath. Lying is one thing, but a president should not lie under oath. Maybe you disagree, so let’s leave it at that.

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

My comment about the Babe was more to address the “hell in a handbasket” argument that’s so prevalent these days when people talk about sports, not to absolve Bonds.

I will note that cheating has always been a big part of sports — corked bats, spitballs, intentionally throwing at batters’ heads, spikings etc. As was cheating for profit — the 1919 Chicago Black Sox (some of whom undoubtedly lied under oath, though maybe not Shoeless Joe), the college hoops point shaving scandals of the 40s, 50s and 60s, etc.

DWBartoo May 14th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Thank you, James, very important and necessary “stuff” you do. It is much appreciated.

And thank you, Mike, always a pleasure to encounter your thoughts.

Thank you, Bev, as well … always.


frmrirprsn May 14th, 2011 at 4:00 pm
In response to leftdcin72 @ 91

It was orders of magnitude less than the actions that should have sent Dick Cheney to jail.

Michael W. Hudson May 14th, 2011 at 4:00 pm
In response to DWBartoo @ 94

Thanks you, too, DW

econobuzz May 14th, 2011 at 4:01 pm
In response to leftdcin72 @ 91

FWIW, you made my point.

econobuzz May 14th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Thank you all. Great discussion.

CharlesII May 14th, 2011 at 4:04 pm
In response to DaveMoore @ 92

The comment of Phoenix Woman, who co-blogs with me, is perhaps not directed so much at you as at comment 7.

As for presidents lying, they lie all the time, even in those rare instances when they are under oath. Reagan testifying that he could not recall his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal, for example.

This is not to justify it. It can’t be justified. The point is that in order to catch Clinton in that lie, we sacrificed something essential about the political system. And the relentlessness of this political blood sport was to avoid wounding the egos of those journalists who got invested in the Whitewater “investigation.”

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 4:05 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 78

Blood Sport is non-fiction, as are all my books. In the notes and sources, I gave a detailed explanation of my methodology. I would encourage you to read that. A statement or quotation is no different from any other historical fact and is reported and verified like any other. Whether someone said certain words or wore a red tie on a certain occasion are both facts. Other reporters, including Bob Woodward, have long used similar approaches. I thought Blood Sport was nuanced and balanced, in many ways positive for the Clintons. (It largely exonerated them of any crime in Whitewater.) Blood Sport seems to have offended some people who were ideologically wedded to a certain view of the Clintons, and many of them responded not by challenging the accuracy of my reporting, but by attacking my writing approach. I believe Blood Sport has held up very well under intense scrutiny both in the accuracy of its specific facts and the broader portrait of the Clintons and the political culture in which they existed. I find many people who are intensely loyal to former president Bush and Karl Rove are responding the same way to Tangled Webs, but by now I’ve grown accustomed to partisan attack. I’m willing to take the arrows.

James B. Stewart May 14th, 2011 at 4:07 pm
In response to econobuzz @ 98

Thanks for your interest and I hope you enjoy the book. Have a great weekend.

gordonot May 14th, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Yeah, my question is that now they’ve served their time…did they get back into the same crime business…perhaps a little wiser for wear?

spocko May 14th, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I’m not quite sure what you mean by “fabulism,” but if you mean making something up to enhance a story, it’s false. It’s fiction. Fiction has a place, but not in non-fiction.

Do you even read what you wrote earlier in this thread?

I’ll go after your “writing approach” if you are calling fiction non-fiction no matter who is the subject. I don’t care if it is Karl Rove or Bill Clinton, Rev. Moon or the Dali Lama.

The old, “Both sides criticize me so must be doing something right” defense? Really James? Really?

“Other reporters, including Bob Woodward, have long used similar approaches.”

Are you thinking that I/we have any respect for the current Bob Woodward and his approach? I, and I think I can include Kelly here, know that Bob Woodward of the last 15-20 years is not “an ugly Robert Redford” with integrity. Woodward has moved onto “access journalmalism” He is a courtesan in court. You have severely underestimated your audience here at FDL if you think we respect the Bob Woodward of 2011.

I find many people who are intensely loyal to former president Bush and Karl Rove are responding the same way to Tangled Webs

Nice false equivalence. When I get upset about someone’s fabulation it is not necessarily because of a partisan fervor.

I’m going to call out a liar or someone who calls fiction non-fiction whether he is a Republican or a Democrat, a liberal or a conservative. A journalist or a hack.
Does Oprah need to render judgment on what is fiction and what is non-fiction in books?

I understand you need to tell yourself certain things in order to be out there in the public writing your books. We all do. Different people have different styles and methods. If you need to tell yourself that Kelly is criticizing you because he is a Clinton supporter go ahead, but it’s not what is going on here.

I’m more concerned with your future at the NY Times, especially if you are ever in the position again of knowing you are being lied to and simply waiting until later to find a “she said” to counter the lie.

Here’s the thing, by simply quoting the liar accurately and maybe finding someone to call them out on it (but not doing it yourself) you keep the lie alive. You are encouraging zombie lies. You yourself are not enforcing consequences for the lie strongly enough. Waiting for the reader to make the decision isn’t good enough.

You don’t want to be, “judge and jury” when talking to them. Why? Are you so unsure of the truth you know that you aren’t willing to call someone out in the moment? Or at least question them deeper? Sometimes truth is truth, and allowing them to lie to you without calling them on it in a timely, rigorous fashion keeps them lying to you.

I know your journalism style, and so do the people lying to you. They use this style of journalism as a conduit for half truths and lies. They are counting on you finding someone to dispute them, without you adding in your truth and weight to the story. This is why the joke about journalism today, “Republican’s say “Earth has no gravity”, Democrats disagree” is so real to people.

I spoke to Matt Taibbi on his recent book tour. I asked him, ‘What are the MOTUs afraid of?’ He said, “It isn’t journalists.” Why is that? Because most of them are afraid to call them out people like Goldman Sach on their lies.

Being sued for 34 million will make anyone gun shy. I don’t blame you. I know that I pulled back from my exposing and defunding right wing talk radio for awhile, but I didn’t try and pretend I pulled back because I had a new found respect for talk radio hosts. They intimidated me and it worked, for a while. But I kept fighting and teaching others the methods. Glenn Beck going off of Fox is part of my work and my legacy.

Personally next stop is figuring out a way to make corporations pay for lying. Maybe I’ll use your book as a guide to find out what lies they seem to favor.

Just writing about the fact that Rupert Murdoch lied to me is one thing. It is also something not a single journalist did, even after I laid out the evidence to over 20 of them. After I asked my question Murdoch got asked the same question in the next three conference calls. I know that journalist think that their job stops at the exposing of malfeasance. Some hope the “authorities” will pick up the ball and act. But maybe this book opened your eyes that just exposing the info is not enough.

Someone needs to push for the “authorities” to act. People in this forum asked a couple of times “what can we do” and you didn’t give them an answer. This was your chance. You don’t see yourself as an activist, fine. I get that, but clearly, and sadly, it appears that you don’t see that now is the time to tell us how to stop the lying in an effective manner. This was your chance. Maybe you didn’t have an answer. Lots of people don’t, maybe that wasn’t the point of the book, fine. But telling us all, “I was shocked” by the lying without saying, “I care about lying and here is what I’m going to do differently in the future” seems like a waste of the work that went into your book.

Maybe you will give a signed copy of your book to the people who you find lying to you. Maybe you will look for the whistleblowers in the organizations of the liars so they will feel consequences. Maybe you can alert the SEC to the lies you find and ask them what they are going to do about it. Maybe you will just keep shaking your head at those terrible liars.

May 14th, 2011 at 5:43 pm
In response to spocko @ 103

You certainly CAN include me in your statement. I was going to blow Mr. Stewart’s response off, but seeing yours energizes me again.

What was Stewart’s response to me? To claim me as a “partisan” and himself as a victim with that suffer-the-arrows throw away line. Fail.

No, Stewart failed at many of the facts he claims to love, which Conason and Lyons show entirely well; indeed, Stewart repeated the same tactic in his response to me with a response to a claim I didn’t make, and didn’t respond to the question I posed.

Eminently suited to the Op-Ed pages of the NYT.

econobuzz May 14th, 2011 at 6:15 pm


Phoenix Woman May 14th, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Just Google “lyons conason blood sport” for more on this guy. And how he seemed to miraculously echo Ken Starr’s OIC.

Or just go here: http://www.salon.com/11/departments/hotb.html

Winski May 15th, 2011 at 8:26 am

Instead of finding this story intriguing and spellbinding and sometimes witty, I felt like I needed to go take a shower after reading this. It was apparent a LONG time ago that these clowns were slime balls, but we as a society and especially the media glorify these criminals like they thought they were royalty. They weren’t – they’re not – and until we get over this fascination with money and all of it’s corrupting allures, America will do this again and again and again and again…

It’s happening more and more as we speak. We cheer the market having it’s best year in five and it’s NOT better – it’s orders of magnitude worse and the media is just playing it up more and more….

F*** you guys.. I’ve got a better plan…. I’m outta your world…. have a wonderful crash… and don’t forget to share the stale bread with your fellow ex-billionaire along the way to the sewer.

Sorry but the comments are closed on this post